Complexions Ballet Interview with Desmond Richardson CoFounder/CoArtistic Director

The Complexions Contemporary Ballet celebrated their 21st season at New York's Joyce Theater and I made sure to take my son to see them. While I've seen ballet companies before, this was the first time for my son and I was excited to introduce him to a multicultural version of a ballet company.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet

photo credit: Bill Hebert/Courtesy of Dance Affiliates

Note: I was invited as media and received tickets for review purposes. Any personal views expressed are always 100% my own.


We attended a Sunday showing which was perfect for families, since it was a nice selection of performances including BALLAD UNTO… (NYC Premiere), STRUM (NYC Premiere).

Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Complexions Contemporary Ballet

photo credit: Bill Hebert/Courtesy of Dance Affiliates


BALLAD UNTO was an amazing show of body and story telling. My son didn't get it at first. He was distracted by the people on stage being "sorta naked" but after I explained to him they were wearing special "dance" clothing, he got over his nervousness and sat mesmerized by the dancers.


Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Complexions Contemporary Ballet

photo credit: Bill Hebert/Courtesy of Dance Affiliates

Then we watched the STRUM performance and my son fell head over heels in love. I can't blame him since the performance was phenomenal. The combination of rock music and ballet moves (modern and classic) was unlike anything I ever seen. My son keep exclaiming how awesome and cool it was. I had to hush him (but not to much) a few times.

After the performances ended, we had a long talk about bodies and seeing different races of people dancing together. For a multi race family like mine, this was a VERY interesting and important conversation.

The reality is while ballet is a wonderful performance art, it does lack a bit in the diversity area. So what the Complexions Contemporary Ballet has been able to accomplish for over 20 years is SO important on so many levels.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet Desmond Richardson CoFounder CoArtistic Director

To learn more about how they do this, I was able to interview Desmond Richardson, CoFounder/CoArtistic Director for Complexions Contemporary Ballet.


Onica (MommyFactor}: At what age should children be introduced to the world of dance?

Desmond Richardson: I would say 3-4yrs old when their bodies are developing and they are able to engage with movement and music. It is a great age since they are very interested in music and how movement coincides with sounds.


Onica (MommyFactor}: How has Complexions kept it all going for so many years as a "multicultural" ballet? I saw a range of races even white. Explain a bit about that and why it's important?

Desmond Richardson: Well , it continues to be a journey, Dwight Rhoden, our choreographer/co-founder and I believe the name says it all, within Complexions there are many differences, qualities and textures to what these different people bring to the table. We celebrate all by creating a platform where these performers can explore their unique selves. That individuality and passion for their art form is relatable to the audience as they witness a united front on stage bringing forth beauty, elegance and high powered visceral dancing .


Onica (MommyFactor}: The performances had a mix of dance styles including classic, modern, African and Hip Hop? How do you decided what styles to use for a performance?

Desmond Richardson: All those styles you mentioned exist in our main repertoire, Dwight Rhoden shares my belief that we use all those genres of dance to convey the stories he wants to tell within his works. Different styles evoke different emotions and being well versed in them creates a healthy palate of investigation and interest for those who view our performances.


Onica (MommyFactor}: Young men don't automatically think of ballet as an interest, why should they?

Desmond Richardson: We all know the idea for young men to dance is societal and stigma based and I'm hopeful those walls are on the continuum to be broken down.

Young men should look at dance as an interest for the following reasons:

  1. If it's your Passion.
  2. It's important to know your body as a human being, period.
  3. Dancers are athletes and share the same physicality as all the sports do.
  4. It keeps you looking much younger than people your age.


Onica (MommyFactor}: What next for Complexions? What other goals does the company want to reach?

Desmond Richardson: The future is bright for Complexions Contemporary Ballet ,celebrating our 21st season this year we look Beyond20 to creating our training school where students from all over the world can come to train in our specific brand of Contemporary Ballet and investigate their creativity! Our goals continue to be lofty and I won't divulge all just yet but I will say, keep a look out for Complexions as we will be coming to you from many different areas as we stay in gratitude for your support.


Thank you so much to Desmond and the Complexions Ballet company. My son is now a ballet fan!

For the most up-to-date schedule for Complexions Contemporary Ballet , visit www.complexionsdance.org

On Twitter - www.twitter.com/ComplexionsNYC
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/complexionsdance

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20 comments:

  1. That sounds like a lovely show. I love going to the ballet.

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  2. I'd love to see this show. I love watching the human form move through dance. It's so beautiful.

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  3. I think it's so cool that you got to interview Mr. Richardson! I've always been fascinated by the ballet and dance in general.

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  4. It must have been an amazing performance. I would love to take in a show sometime if I'm ever down that way again.

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  5. My son loves to dance, but I don't think he wants to take a class he just likes to dance to music. :) I bet this was a outstanding performance! I would have loved to have seen it.

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing. We have a tradition of going to the ballet every year, but between you and me, I have never given it thought about how not-diverse it is.

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  7. I loved ballet so much as a kid. I miss it so much and think this would be so lovely! - Jeanine

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  8. It's been so long since I've been to the ballet! Looks like an amazing show!

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  9. It would be amazing to see this show. Ballet is so beautiful to watch.

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  10. Ballet is such a beautiful dance to watch. I have always wanted to go to a big ballet production.

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  11. This would be an amazing evening out. I have always wanted to see a ballet in person. These are fantastic photos.

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  12. This sounds like an incredible performance. The message is very important too. It sounds like those directors have great artistic vision!

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  13. Looks like a fantastic performance ! I know I would have loved it !

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  14. I love a good ballet. This looks like it would be a great performance to watch and amazing interview to do!

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  15. This is very amazing, especially the boys who does ballet. it's so nice to read this post.

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  16. I started ballet when I was 4, so I think his advice was spot on. It looks like a lovely performance.

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  17. I've only been to one ballet show and I was in complete awe with the performance. The strength and beauty that these dancers have is just mind blowing

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  18. What an awesome experience and interview. Ballet is something that has always intrigued me!

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  19. I haven't been to a ballet in a long time. It sounds like fun!

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  20. I Love watching a ballet show. This look and sounds Wonderful, Thank you for sharing.

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